• New housing report paints bleak picture for renters

    An independent study of New Zealand’s housing sector has found the housing crisis the country faces is deeper and more entrenched than previously revealed.

    Commissioned by Housing Minister Phil Twyford and released today, the report assesses the entire housing continuum from homeownership and market renting, to state housing and homelessness, and the social cost of substandard housing.

    “It paints a sobering picture of the devastating impacts of the housing crisis, particularly on children,” says Phil Twyford. “Homelessness, transience and substandard housing have had a lasting, and sometimes even deadly, effect on our youngest,” Twyford said.

    The study found that 32% of rental properties are “poorly maintained,” and 29% of households struggle to afford power bills, spent a large portion on the bill, or felt cold.

    “The stocktake highlights the increasing number of elderly facing housing-related poverty because fewer and fewer are mortgage free and able to survive on Superannuation alone.

    “Most concerning is the hidden homeless – those who feel they can’t seek government housing support for their families – for which there are no official estimates. The stocktake suggests there could be significant numbers of ‘floating homeless’ which will lead to a growing homeless rate as more people seek help.”

    The stocktake warned New Zealand is “quickly becoming a society divided by the ownership of housing and its related wealth” and found “recent housing and tax policy settings appear to have exacerbated this division”.

    “The Government is committed to addressing this inequality. Fixing the housing crisis will take bold action. The Government has a significant work programme to respond to these failures; implementing KiwiBuild, improving conditions for renters, increasing the supply of public housing, and rebalancing tax settings to discourage speculation.”

    Other key findings from the study included:

    – New Zealand has 1.9 million private homes with average of 2.6 people per dwelling • 574,000 households are renting

    – Rents for three-bedroom houses rose 25 per cent 2012-17, but wages just 14 per cent

    – Number of children under 15 living in rentals up 65 per cent between 1986 and 2013

    The independent study was completed by Stocktake’s authors; Alan Johnson of the Salvation Army, Otago Public Health Professor Philippa Howden-Chapman and economist Shamubeel Eaqub